Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana was killed yesterday while reportedly attempting to stage a Bigfoot hoax. Tenley was walking on a highway wearing a hunter's ghillie suit, likely similar to the one seen here, when he was struck by two different vehicles driven by teenagers. From KAJ18.com:
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Schneider says friends of the victim said Tenley was wearing a military-style camouflage ghillie suit in hopes of creating a Bigfoot hoax…
"It's still a crash involving vehicles and a pedestrian. So we're still doing the same investigation, but once we started speaking to parties, then someone involved in it, trying to ascertain exactly what brought that gentleman out to Highway 93 … I would not guess that would motivate anybody to be out on Highway 93," Scheider said.
[Video Link] I spent many hundreds of hours enjoying Blinky the Clown's TV show on Denver's KWGN-TV. The good-hearted clown (real name Russell Scott) died today at the age of 91. I'm sorry to hear it.
Scott's career as a clown grew from sketches he performed for children who came to see the elaborate miniature circus he maintained at his home.
"Dad was incredibly artistic," said daughter Linda Scott Ballas, who with her husband Steve, owns Steve's Snappin' Dogs in Denver.
"Everything was to scale, like one of those model train layouts. He hand-carved the elephants, a gorilla, put little motors under the plywood table that would move the animals in a circle, move the trapeze act and the barkers. It started out for me and my sister, but the more involved Dad got, we weren't actually allowed to touch it."
If this has made you nostalgic, you might enjoy reading the 594 comments in the 1960s and 1970s Denver pop culture open thread, where we discussed Jakes Jabbs, Starr Yelland, KWGN channel 2, Celebrity Sports Center, The Yum Yum Tree, Blinky's Fun Club, Buffalo Bill Museum, Heritage Square, and more.
Tim Powers is one the founding fathers of steampunk, and a writer whose every book is superb. I drove down to San Bernardino City College to talk to him about his latest work, Hide Me Among the Graves, a secret supernatural history of the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters.
He has a rather unique perspective on writing, history and fantasy that involves identifying events that seem as if they might have some supernatural aspect and then creating a backstory that ties them together. The Rossettis; Dante Gabriel Rossetti (poet and painter), Christina (poet), William and Maria are a perfect set of subjects.
We had a great time talking about how he put it all together.
Rebecca from EFF sez, "EFF is proud to announce the winners of this year's Pioneer Awards: hardware hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang, anti-ACTA activist Jérémie Zimmermann, and the Tor Project -- the organization behind the groundbreaking anonymity tool Tor. These winners have all done truly important work to protect our digital rights. Join us at the award ceremony on September 20 in San Francisco.
A.S.M.O.'s circuit-bent toy guitar, currently for sale on eBay, features "super pitch bend knob and touch bolts, LFO with speed and depth controls, headstock light sensor, audio out jack socket." Note the Throbbing Gristle t-shirt. (via @chris_carter_)
Amy Reading's The Mark Inside is perhaps the best book I've ever read on con artists and con artistry, a retelling of one of the classic stories of the bunco boom that marked the start of the 20th century in America. Reading builds her book around the life story of J Frank Norfleet, a soft-spoken, thrifty Texas rancher who built his fortune up from nothing, only to lose it all to a gang of swindlers. Norfleet became obsessed with the men who'd victimized him, and became a nationally famous vigilante, crisscrossing America bent on capturing and jailing the whole gang -- and any other con-men he met along the way.
Norfleet himself was transformed by his quest, which awoke in him a kind of inner showman and bunco artist. He delighted in showing off for the press and for audiences, spinning yarns as adeptly as the con artists he hunted. In order to get cooperation from government prosecutors and lawmen, he had to flimflam them, too, convincing them with carefully scripted cons of his own. Reading places Norfleet's con within the wider context of the con-artists who ruled America and the shifting American attitude towards wagering and speculating, showing how the whole nation was moving itself from a republican thriftiness to a nation that mythologized plungers and get-rich-quickmen who made a fortune by dicing with dollars in markets and at the faro tables.
I've read dozens of books about and by con artists (the bunco boom had its own publishing wing, and every fast talker who lived long enough seems to have penned a memoir after the fashion of The Yellow Kid Weil). Not a one of them captures the pathos and bathos, the absurdity and temerity, the virtuosity and the venality of the con man quite like Reading. She writes with the lyricism of a magic realist, but with the rigor of a historian, and so much of her best analysis springs from her explorations of the differences between different accounts of the same events.
Books like Where Wizards Stay Up Late and The Right Stuff and The Information perfectly captured their own individual moments in time -- turning points in the modern history of the Earth. The Mark Inside stands with these as an engrossing and illuminating account of the moment at which speculation -- not thrift -- became the order of the day in America, and it's thrilling and hilarious by turns and when you're done, you understand the past and the present better.
After Ben Affleck denied that he was ever officially asked by Warner Bros. to direct the Justice League movie, a new name has been tossed into the internet rumor mill: Wachowski, as in Andy and Lana Wachowski of The Matrix (and Cloud Atlas, V For Vendetta, and Bound). The siblings are now apparently on the WB's short list to direct the DC Comics ensemble answer to Marvel's The Avengers. It's pure, unadulterated rumor right now, but it's a cool one, for sure. And Hugo Weaving would probably be on board for that, which is pretty boss. (via The AV Club)
Evoland is a Zelda-style adventure game by Nicholas Cannasse, opening with monochrome graphics and rudimentary gameplay. As the player progresses, it evolves in complexity and color—just like your childhood. A great idea, beautifully executed, with some neat historical humor to boot. [via Free Indie Games]
When you watch Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and see the corpse of Norman Bates' mother revealed, don't you wonder what she used to look like? I mean, Norman was kind enough to put on a wig and give us an idea, but in the end, he was still just a very disturbed man in a dress. Not the most accurate representation of Mrs. Norma Bates. But A&E is going to finally end all that wondering we've been doing now that they've cast Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) as Mother. Dear, dear Mother.
I suppose the other news is that yes, this Psycho series is actually still happening, despite no one really asking for it. But while it's never encouraging news to hear that someone is trying to capitalize on a classic horror movie by turning it into a TV show about already-existing characters (because that's generally known as "fan fiction"), at least it's coming from interesting people. Notably, the executive producer and writer of Lost, Carlton Cuse. Nothing "run of the mill" is coming from Carlton Cuse. And this show, Bates Motel, is promising a Twin Peaks-level of weirdness and mystery for the story that will tell us what Norma Bates did to her son that turned him into such a demented person. I'm not going to lie -- that sounds pretty interesting. A&E clearly agreed when they picked the whole thing up for series right off the bat.
Farmiga's Norma is being described as "a complicated, passionate and compelling woman who's a smart, multidimensional character always capable of surprising people." Probably not with cupcakes. But she sounds delightful! Maybe, in the end, Norman was just a brat.
The I DRAW COMICS Sketchbook & Reference Guide is the ultimate tool for practicing the basics of Comic Book illustration, page design and the art of storytelling. We've designed the ultimate Comic Book Artist Field Guide by combining commonly used industry reference materials and 100+ sketching templates into a ubiquitous and iconic molelskine sketchbook form.
Hammacher Schlemmer, purveyors of expensive stuff of no use to anyone, is famous for its precious catalog copy. Example:
Designed in Milan, it is handcrafted entirely of slip-cast ceramic fired in Vincenza, renowned since the 18th century for its traditional ceramics that have been compared to the finest Chinese porcelain. The clay itself comes from the Tuscan commune of Montelupo Fiorentino, a prominent center of ceramics production during the Renaissance, its products reaching as far as the first European settlements in Central America.
Just for fun, let's have a contest in the comments. Write Hammacher Schlemmer catalog copy for a rubber band. The most liked comment wins a no-prize.
Catherine Baucom, a breast cancer surgeon in Louisiana, was on her way to a surgery at BRASS Surgery Center of Baton Rouge last Wednesday morning when she found herself caught in a complete traffic shutdown caused by a major accident. She handled it like a boss: the surgeon, who is also a cyclist, borrowed a pink bicycle and helmet decorated with Disney princesses from a nearby friend’s 7-year-old daughter, and she pedaled like hell.
Dr. Baucom remembered a friend that lived a few blocks from her position in the mayhem and made her way to his house. "Catherine called, she was outside my house. She said 'Hey do you have a bike?' I walked outside and said yea, its a kids bike," said Dr. Brian Barnett. After a quick test run, Dr. Baucom decided the bike was her only choice to get to the hospital. "I got the air pump out and aired the tires up as much as I could."
He gladly loaned her his seven year old daughter's bike and helmet and the nearly six foot tall surgeon resumed her journey to the surgery center.
"It was hot pink and small," Dr. Baucom said, describing the bike. "The helmet was pink with princesses." He added he was laughing so much he couldn't get video of her before she peddled away. "But she did utilize the plastic basket on front, to put her cell phone in. Showed her experience with the bike."
In the last 2 decades, some 85% of wild Tasmanian Devils have been wiped out. The primary cause isn't poachers or habitat destruction, but a bizarre kind of *contagious* cancer. "A recent epidemic disease, known as devil facial tumour disease, has brought an extremely rare, but equally devastating, set of circumstances together to threaten the devil population. Facial tumour disease, unlike every form of cancer known to affect humans, is transferred directly from devil to devil when they bite each other, which is 'something they do a lot during feeding or mating.'”
Over at Thought Catalog, the inimitable Mark Dery presents an epic appreciation for the late Gore Vidal.
His perennial subject was the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and his commentaries on it constituted one long poison-pen elegy for American democracy, delivered with that patented blend of amused hauteur and oracular self-assurance. The small, what-fools-these-mortals-be smile he managed at the decline of Our Fair Republic (for him, it had been declining from the day it was founded) made mock of any dreams of social justice we might entertain.
Little surprise, then, that he wasn’t to everyone’s taste. In “Mr. Gore: Unpatriotic Vidal” (The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America), Martin Amis found his brick-thick novels hard going, took a dim view of his militant heterophobia (Vidal was bisexual), marveled at the virulence of his anti-Americanism, and raised a wry eyebrow at his pose, on the page, as “the only grown-up in America,” his tone “that of a super evolved stellar sage gazing down on the globe in pitying hilarity.” (Amis did concede, however, that Vidal was “probably” — I can just see the Cicero of the Small Screen pursing his lips at the weasel word — “the cleverest book-reviewer in the world.”)
This silent film clip, posted at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine blog, is one of the most amazing things I've seen in a while.
First off, it shows a 1968 test run of a lunar landing research vehicle—a practice version of the lunar module that would later carry Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon. It's weird and surreal and very, very awesome to watch an LLRV rising, lowering, and swooping through the sky from the vantage point of someone standing on the ground. In general, a great reminder that we make UFOs right here on Earth.
But the real crazy bit happens at the end of the video, when Neil Armstrong—who was piloting this LLRV—bails out just before the craft plummets to the ground and explodes.
No, seriously. And it leads to this amazing story, which is, in itself, a brilliant tribute to Armstrong.
In his Armstrong biography First Man, author James Hansen recounts how astronaut Alan Bean saw Armstrong that afternoon at his desk in the astronaut office. Bean then heard colleagues in the hall talking about the accident, and asked them, “When did this happen?” About an hour ago, they replied. Bean returned to Armstrong and said, “I just heard the funniest story!” Armstrong said, “What?” “I heard that you bailed out of the LLTV an hour ago.” “Yeah, I did,” replied Armstrong. “I lost control and had to bail out of the darn thing.” “I can’t think of another person,” Bean recalls, “let alone another astronaut, who would have just gone back to his office after ejecting a fraction of a second before getting killed.”
Mysterious booms are rattling citizens of El Dorado County, California. Quarry owners require government permission to use explosives. The local Naval Air Station denies any supersonic flights over the area. Some have suggested that perhaps wineries are employing propane canons to scare away birds. From CBS Sacramento:
According to USGS, there aren’t enough seismic stations to pinpoint the exact location. Meanwhile, some say the booms have been around so long and happen so often they barely notice them anymore. Still, others want to solve the mystery.
“I would like to know what it is, yeah. And I’d like to know when it’s going to stop too,” said (Pleasant Valley resident Peter) O’Grady.
The New York Times Sunday Review had an article this week linking autism with the hygiene hypothesis. Written by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the piece is part of the Times' opinion coverage, not reported news. It was also one of those sort of stories that comes across as highly persuasive ... until you start looking at the details. About halfway through reading it yesterday, it occurred to me that Velasquez-Manoff was making a lot of big statements—"perhaps 1/3 of autism, and very likely more, looks like a type of inflammatory disease", for example—without citing the sources to back those statements up.
That's easy to do when you're writing a relatively short article summarizing the contents of a much bigger book, as Velasquez-Manoff seems to be doing here. But the problems go deeper than that, according to biologist and science writer Emily Willingham. In a must-read blog post, she goes through the NYT piece and points out many flaws in argument and detail. The main problem, though, is a pretty simple one: Moises Velasquez-Manoff presents what seems to be a largely speculative hypothesis as sure-fire truth. To make that case as persuasive as it is, he leaves out lots of evidence that doesn't match up with his thesis.
For about two years, the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy has been operating as a blog, building an online community for women in the New York comedy scene (and elsewhere). But it's not nearly as gigantic as it damn well should be. To remedy that, the New York Times has given it the spotlight with an interview with GLOC founder Glennis McCarthy, and I'm going to go ahead and spread the love, too. (And not just because I was a guest on their podcast.) Read about why we shouldn't pay any mind to the repeatedly disproven trope that women aren't funny, and what big names in comedy have been a part of the GLOC. (via The New York Times)